News, Connections and Photos from the life of the faith community at CAPC Oakland
Last December a terrorist attack occurred in San Bernardino. [Read this Wikipedia entry to refresh your memory if needed]. The pastor of the church is a friend of our church congregation. We as CAPC wrote a community letter of encouragement and solidarity to the faith community of First Pres San Bernardino as they worked with their neighbors to respond to the needs of their greater city. Monte received an e-update this past week from their pastor, Rev. Sandy Tice, about developments in their church and town since then. Below is the text of that communication.
One way or another you contacted me a year ago, as our congregation was reeling from the events of Dec 2 2015-
The year has flown by. On the one hand: a singular year, unlike any other,
In other ways: moving through many “ordinary days”.
As I am praying may way into this new year, I found myself wanting to thank you for what your invisible support has meant to me in 2016.
I have often felt overwhelmed by not knowing what I should be doing, or what we can do to bring substantive and measurable change. It has been frightening and heavy in some moments.
As we round this corner, though, I notice that I am grateful for signs of hope and new beginnings. Specifically-
– Our city received a big green light from the judge presiding over our bankruptcy, and we expect to officially exit Bankruptcy in March. This frees up money (from court proceedings), clears a burden of unfixable debt (this is what bankruptcy means, right?), and removes a stigma from our city that gets in the way of investment and healing and hope. It also frees up staff time and fresh energy, so it is cause for rejoicing. While it is not directly related to the terror attacks, exiting this process will provide fresh energy for healing and redevelopment.
– Our city adopted a new charter in the November election, against all odds. The problems with our old charter were arcane and complex, (which is what has made it hard to explain in a sound-byte and get the citizens to change it- or care) but it opens HUGE new possibilities for our city to be financially solvent, and not spend 80% of our budget on public safety. It sounds like a small, local thing, but it will change everything in terms of what our Mayor and Common Council can risk and accomplish. Again, this did not begin with the violence last December, but having it sorted will free up ways for more healing and strength to happen in our city. I am so grateful.
– We have made new friends. Last week, 5 members of our congregation accepted an invitation to spend several hours at a public outreach/learning event at a mosque about 30 minutes away. They have become very proactive since the shootings here in our city, and one of their number came to First Pres several times to teach a class on “True Islam”- and to contrast this with extremism. I believe these personal relationships with people will make us more able to work together as neighbors who long for peace. We hosted a “healing and resilience” event in partnership with the skilled presenters from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance in August, where to learned ways to cope with the stress of being caregivers in long-term situations. We have built a new bond with First Pres Encino who have reached out to us with continuing love and kindness, we feel connected in new ways.
Meanwhile, we continue to comfort the sorrowing, feed the poor, and bless those God sends our way. We keep trying to learn, and to grow, and to be brave. To seek peace and pursue it. To do justice and love mercy. To sing praise to the One who holds our Life, even when we grieve.
Here is something I read two days ago, which expresses some of what I am trying to say:
As long as we sing, the pain of the world cannot claim our lives. (Mark Nepo)
Thank you for continuing to pray for us, your support matters even when I do not look up from the tasks and remember to write ! 🙂
On the anniversary of 12/2, the city held a large citywide interfaith gathering at the stadium at Cal State San Bernardino. I was honored to be asked to offer an invocation. Here is my prayer.
A PRAYER FOR THE NIGHT OF REMEMBRANCE
San Bernardino, December 2 2016, (with thanks to Anne Lamott)
We come together as people who dwell together,
people who have shared great sorrow.
We come from many faith traditions, or no faith- yet we want to mark this moment
As holy, this year as sacred.
One writer has suggested the 3 most universal prayers of the human heart are
“Help me” and “Thank You” and “Wow.” Let us pray:
In this moment, we say “Thank You”-
For those who came running to help,
For all who, day by day,
gave money and medical care and counseling and companionship,
For those who remembered us, who reached out in love, who prayed.
Thank you that as we faced what we could not bear,
as our hearts broke and our voices cracked and our hands shook
we did not die.
Thank you for every memory that is sustaining,
For the healing that has begun,
For glimpses of resilience that give us fresh courage
For the kindness that has helped more than we can say- Thank you.
Help us, Holy One. We are a year in to this journey of grief and still not done:
Heartbreak and anger and questions remain. Help us to heal and to mend,
To expand our capacity for courage and connection and co-existence.
Help us to use this great wound as motivation to love neighbors we never knew,
Help us to show respect, to stand together, to work for peace.
Help us to spiritually link arms, and to physically take action, to be
In spite of everything, a city filled with a living hope that
That no violence can destroy and no darkness can extinguish.
We know we are alive, for our hearts can still leap:
beauty can still take our breath away,
tenderness can still bring tears.
Each day as the sun comes up,
Each evening as the hills turn pink and radiant
we see that we are not the center, and we are grateful for the world that is renewed.
Each child that laughs and every hero who shows courage is a gift.
We have been struck down, but we are rising up, and being made Strong.
We know that we are living in the middle of a miracle
And so we say “Thank you” and so we say “Help Us” and so we say “Wow”.
Blessings to you, and ongoing love,
Sandy Tice and the congregation at First Presbyterian San Bernardino.